The wall acceleration drill is incredibly beneficial for athletes who perform short distance sprints, requiring explosive and efficient horizontal acceleration. In sport, there is very little time spent on teaching athletes proper acceleration mechanics, most of the emphasis is placed on top speed. Doesn’t this seem counterintuitive?
After all, we cannot reach top speed without first having acceleration. Before describing todays drill, I would first like to delve deeper into the importance of separating acceleration from top speed, because these two components of sprinting carry distinct mentalities and technique. If you ask an athlete what the goal of acceleration is, the majority would probably claim that the goal of acceleration is to reach top speed as quickly as possible. Having this mentality is detrimental to sprint performance. The goal of acceleration is to build momentum and the goal of top speed is maintaining velocity. This is true because top speed is only sustainable for a short period, after this, the athlete is only slowing down. Therefore, it is not necessarily the fastest person who will win the race, but the person who slows down the slowest. I will simply sum this up by saying, with great acceleration, comes great top speed.
Now that you understand its importance, we can begin discussing how you can improve your acceleration mechanics. Performing the wall acceleration drill teaches and allows you to feel the correct technique. I will describe the two key components to acceleration technique and their importance.
1.) Being in a 45 degree angle with the ground
2.) Forceful hip extension with low heels during the powerful forward knee drive.
Being in a 45 degree angle allows the athlete to apply force into the ground behind the hips, as opposed to top speed, in which it is advantageous that the foot strikes the ground directly below the hips. Newton’s third law of motion tells us that when we apply force into an object, an equal and opposite reaction occurs, pushing the same amount of force back onto us. This is why a vertical jump involves applying force into the ground directly below you. During acceleration, it is more advantageous to apply force into the ground behind our hips, because this allows for improved horizontal force application so that the equal and opposite reaction will propel us more towards our goal.
To describe the importance of having low heels when driving the knee forward, I must use an analogy. During sprinting, our legs act as levers, the shorter the length of the lever (the higher your heel the shorter the lever) the faster that it can go through its range of motion, which is desirable at top speed because your stride frequency will be increased compared to your drive phase, in which your stride frequency is slower but you want to apply a lot more force into the ground. During acceleration, we want a long lever (low heels) because these have the advantage of producing more power compared to a short lever. Think of having two different hammers, one with a long handle and one with a short handle. You can hit the nail a lot quicker but with less power when using the short handled hammer which is our analogy for top speed. But when using the long handled hammer, like a sledgehammer, you can hit the nail with a lot more power, but less frequently. So this is just a very detailed way of saying be powerfully patient and keep your heels low because it will allow for greater force application.
With all this being said, the wall acceleration drill is invaluable and can be implemented into any workout or warm-up. Although, the drill can be even more beneficial when performed with the SpeedMaker. The SpeedMaker Provides Resistance to the action, strengthening the glutes and hamstrings and also improves acceleration technique by increasing knee drive. Please view the video below, in which I demonstrate and describe how to perform the wall acceleration drill. Thank you again for visiting the SpeedMaker blog, please comment with thoughts, questions, or drills and exercises that you would like to see in the future.
P.S. I want to take this opportunity to thank Kyle Blankers. My friend, mentor, and coach.